I’ve personally never been that girl who would die to go to Paris. That girl who is in love with a city where it seems to be hearts popping out from its every corner.
Nonetheless I do think (and did before I met her) that it has a special charm, a very different atmosphere, yeah, as they always paint it in every movie, every story, that distinguish Paris from any other city.
I wanted to go there, with the same enthusiasm that I longed (and still do) to visit other european cities. That wish became more intense by the second time that I could plan to cross the ocean. It seemed to me that going to Europe twice and not visit Paris would be almost a sacrilege.
So it made it through the itinerary, as one of the places where we would spend more days in (almost 5). The magnitude of the city and all the things that it has to show you made really difficult to narrow it down. And of course, we didn’t fight it much.
The City of light is worldwide known for its cultural offer, its history, its stunning buildings and architecture. For being the home of significant characters, for its food (my God, that food!), and for being an expensive city to be in. But it doesn’t necessarily mean that there are no options for all of us.
You can find a variety of options in many cities around Europe. Not everything’s so impossible (something that here we often tend to think). Except Switzerland. If you go there, prepare yourself to watch your wallet get thinner and thinner… or you’ll be, as you won’t be eating much LOL 😛 At least that’s my experience from the cities and countries I’ve been.
So don’t go and rule out Paris that fast from your journey, thinking just about the expenses. There are plenty of things to do all around Paris, for free or a few euros, and it’s great to have them in mind especially if you’re staying there a couple of days.
To have easily at hand I set up a list with different ideas to do, having from 0 euro to 15.
>> Louvre Museum: 12 euros per person.
You’ll have to dedicate several Parisian hours here. So as a recommendation look first for the exhibitions and collections that you’d like to see, and then go and get lost inside. There are rooms that will absolutely surprise you. But don’t feel forced to go to the museum. You can visit the outside courtyard, see the statues and the pyramids (with a tour maybe), and keep walking the city. If museums aren’t your thing and you don’t have many spare time, don’t make yourself go there, even if they’re famous or cheap.
Oh, and before I forget! Do you dream about having a face to face encounter with the lovely and sassy Gioconda? Well, just add a few thousands chinese tourists in the scene, and you got it.
>> Gardens of Versailles: 0 euros!
You’ll have to pay a ticket to enter the palace, but not for wander through the breathtaking gardens 😉 . Except if you go when they turn on the fountains and amuse people with music. I think they do this Tuesdays, Saturdays and Sundays. The only expense you’ll have is the RER C train ticket: 7 euros, round trip.
>> Sandemans Tours: just the tips.
Besides Sandemans and their red umbrellas there are many other agencies that will take you around the city walking, by bike, segway, or whatever next thing they can think of. A lot of them, the classic ones, are free and you’ll decide the tip to give them.
>> Walk by Montmartre up to the Basilique du Sacré Coeur: 0 euros.
Follow the cobblestoned streets while going up the hill, passing by those charming houses, the bars, until you reach the stunning basilique. The view from up there made me stay for quite a while, just admiring it. It was an awesome place to be, an unpayable moment. You just can’t miss it.
And it’s completely free, unless you hire a tour to also hear stories of the place. We, for example, did that with Sandemans.
>> Go to the top of the Eiffel Tower: 11 euros.
It’s an obvious thing to say that you have to go to the Eiffel Tower. You can see it growing in front of you, as you walk by the Champ de Mars, getting closer and closer, until you are in its iron base. As an extra you can go to the top and feel the thrill of being <<in>> the Tower. Plus you’ll see the city of light in a very awesome way. You’ll see the entire city, except of course, the tower itself. If you want the complete view, just read a few options below. You can go, for not much of a difference, up to the second floor (11 euros) or to the top (this one costs 17 euros, so technically doesn’t apply to the list).
If you go, remember to go at sunset! And prepared for the Parisian wind.
>> Notre Dame Cathedral: free, yes you’re reading just fine, f r e e.
Incredible, isn’t it? The beyond famous and impressive Cathedral Notre-Dame de Paris is completely free to visit. The thing is that in Paris most of the churches are, except for Sainte Chapelle (from which I heard is worth the ticket).
If you still want to pay, for a couple of euros (8.50 I’d think) you can access the towers of the cathedral, and live the whole Quasimodo experience (?). And for 7 euros you can enter the crypt. I wouldn’t know how interesting those options are.
>> Picnic in the Luxembourg Gardens: whatever your food may cost.
You can buy some food (cheap and easy to eat) at the supermarkets, and go to the gardens on a sunny day. It’s a gorgeous park to have a walk, take photos, and sit to breathe in Paris. It’s huge, with fountains, and birds, and flowers, and lots of green and…! *sigh*
>> See Amélie’s bar: free.
If you decide to visit the quarter of Montmartre, walking by Rue Lepic you’ll find on one of its corners the Café des Deux Moulins. Right! The cafe where Amélie Poulain used to work. A film as mandatory to be seen as this borough to be visited.
>> Find the stairs of Midnight in Paris: magically free.
Continuing with the topic of (great) movies, in 5th arrondissement by the area of The Sorbonne and The Pantheon, you’ll see a staircase. If you were in the film and it was midnight, a very antique car would come to pick you up and take you to the golden ’20s and the Belle Époque. In the (not so magic) reality you can sit on the steps of the Saint-Étienne-du-Mont Church, on Rue Saint-Étienne-du-Mont between Rue Clovis and Rue de la Montagne Sainte Geneviève. Fingers crossed.
>> Orsay Museum: 11 euros.
A museum with a lovely construction, and without the overwhelming amount of artworks, rooms and people of the Louvre. But with the delight of beautiful (and well-known) paintings and a very distinctive clock. And let me go one step further and put my tourist guide hat on to recommend you the exhibits about Van Gogh and Toulouse-Lautrec (whose name you’ll hear about in Paris, if haven’t done it already).
Back in the days, the building was a railway station, which you can appreciate in the architecture. It’s an exhibition itself.
>> Walk while eating a crêpe: 3 euros.
They sell them everywhere, and they’re worth it. Sweet or salty… or better yet, sweet and salty! You can have a sweet one (with Nutella, for example 😀 ) and try a salty one another time. By the little streets near Saint-Michel subway station you can be tempted by lots of shops. And for just 2 or 3 euros you can buy yourself such a treat. And they say that happiness can’t be bought, psst…
>> Try to find the tombstone of Julio Cortázar: zero euros.
In the Montparnasse cemetery you’ll see marked on a map the location of the writer’s grave, along with his last wife Carol Dunlop as well. But don’t get discouraged if you feel that you’re passing by the same spot over and over again. The place is not very friendly to walk through, and you may be walking for a while before finding it.
A hint: the tombs aren’t on one of the well delimited streets; you’ll have to use the dirt roads. In a double row of gravestones, you’ll see a white one. And the inscriptions and objects that people leave on the marble will confirm your discovery.
Ohh look at you, all perceptive and stuff! The stone lies on the ground.
>> Montparnasse Tower: 15 euros.
It’s the most expensive option of this list, but its reward it’s an amazing (with capital letters, bold and italic) view of the whole city, including the Eiffel Tower. Can it be any better? *Chandler sounds inside your head*
If you go at sunset, you’ll get the daylight landscape, and then the sight of the tower getting illuminated; you won’t regret it. If you do, we’ll give you your money back.
Noup, sorry, can’t do.
>> Les Invalides: 11 euros.
It’s a museum of impressive facade, where perhaps the most famous thing is Napoleon’s tomb. Not bad, right?
I couldn’t see it from inside but it’s a highly recommended visit. Earlier it was a military hospital and it now contains several museums theme related.